Directed by: #PhilipBrocklehurst
Written by: #GaryMHowell
Two university students meet up to study in a café. Max, (Jonathan Skye-O’Brien), is far too engrossed in his phone to notice Hannah (Jasmine Yelland), who is keen to study with him. Busy flicking through his social media, he doesn’t realise that Hannah’s chatting about their mutual friends Luke and Jess, who’ve recently started seeing each other. For all Max’s shattered attention span, these two desire to be more than friends.
Two and a half minutes is not a great deal of time to establish a romantic, passionate connection between two individuals. Here, it’s hindered in particular by a patchy script. A romantic drama needs time to build upon the character’s personalities, but it also needs flickers of interest between the two characters. Study Date stumbles from a study session to gossiping about couples, to a romantic conclusion. The characters’ motivations in this short piece don’t make sense. This isn’t a romantic meet-cute, they already know each other, and they’re meant to have this romantic connection. But Max clearly isn’t interested in Hannah. He’s too busy looking at his phone. He doesn’t listen to her, and this study date doesn’t seem to interest him at all. Hannah might moan about her friends in relationships, but this does not emphasise Hannah’s crush on Max. Instead, it implies that she just resents being single.
If this were a chemistry exam they were both studying for, Hannah and Max would not pass with flying colours. The staging dilutes any chemistry actors Yelland and Skye-O’Brien could have had. They’re squashed next to each other in a tiny booth in a university café. Sat directly next to each other, they cannot look into each other’s eyes easily, but neither does the film cut to show us their hands almost touching. Still, neither Hannah nor Max seem genuinely interested in each other. Despite the romantic finale, one kiss doesn’t solve the poor script’s problems and the icy chemistry. Even though the title implies that the short film will offer nothing but romance, the final revelation is still surprising.
This story deserved a runtime longer than two and a half minutes, but even so, the final work is frustratingly hollow. The script hints so little at the characters’ hidden lives and romantic desires that the final moments become oddly forced. With a few different angles and different directorial decisions, maybe chemistry would have sparked between Hannah and Max. Unfortunately, Study Date is as uninspiring as an hour-long lecture.